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Physics: Black Hole as Studio Apartment

22/07/2004. Contributed by Jessica Martin

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Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking said today that black holes, the hypothetical vortexes formed from collapsed stars, don't destroy everything they consume but instead eventually fire out matter and energy "in a mangled form."

Hawking ("A Brief History of Time") presented his re-view at the 17th International Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation in Dublin, Ireland, in response to a core paradox in current scientific thinking that's been keeping scientists awake at night for ages (or at least the last 200 years):

How can black holes destroy all traces of consumed matter and energy,
when subatomic theory postulates that energy can't be created or destroyed?

Hawking's answer: black holes capture and retain their contents for eons, but eventually disintegrate. The transformed contents of the black hole reappear, in mangled form.

From the abstract: "The information paradox for black holes"

The Euclidean path integral over all topologically trivial metrics can be done by time slicing and so is unitary when analytically continued to the Lorentzian. On the other hand, the path integral over all topologically non-trivial metrics is asymptotically independent of the initial state. Thus the total path integral is unitary and information is not lost in the formation and evaporation of black holes. The way the information gets out seems to be that a true event horizon never forms, just an apparent horizon.

Previously, Hawking argued for the possibility that matter travels through the black hole to a new parallel universe (a familiar concept in science fiction).

"I'm sorry to disappoint science fiction fans, but if information is preserved, there is no possibility of using black holes to travel to other universes," he said. "If you jump into a black hole, your mass energy will be returned to our universe, but in a mangled form, which contains the information about what you were like, but in an unrecognizable state."

Sort of like the morning after a very large party at a very small studio apartment. Especially in Paris or New York.

[Sent in by - Material from AP newswire used as the primary source for this post. Abstract from official site, GR17.]

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